SKILLED WORKER. A former Moro Islamic Liberation Front combatant from Maguindanao (2nd right with glasses) receives tool kits to start his own small business from the Ministry of Basic, Higher, and Technical Education – Technical Education and Skills Development  Wednesday (July 6, 2022). Some 176 former fighters received the same livelihood package on the same day. (Photo courtesy of Bangsamoro Information Office - BARMM)

COTABATO CITY – As part of the government’s commitment to the Mindanao peace process, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) distributed tool kits as livelihood support to 176 decommissioned Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) combatants.

Before this, the ex-MILF fighters underwent a month-long of livelihood skills training with daily allowances.

“One of the goals of this program is to help decommissioned MILF combatants start other sources of income,” Mohamad-Ali Diang, the Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education – Technical Education and Skills Development (MBHTE-TESD) focal person, said in an interview Thursday.

MBHTE-TESD dispersed the kits Wednesday as the former rebels shift to income-generating projects.

Supported by the Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity (OPAPRU) under the Normalization Program, the activity targets to help the beneficiaries in their transition to peaceful and productive members of society.

“We are hoping for a prosperous livelihood that will be the key to secure a better future for our ex-MILF combatants to normalize their lives,” Diang said.

Kitchen knives, food tongs, digital weighing scale, measuring cups, measuring spoons, saucepans, mixing bowls, and chopping boards, were distributed to 68 MILF technical-vocational graduates from Illana Bay Integrated Computer College Inc. in Parang, Maguindanao.

On the other hand, 81 graduates from Ittihadun Nisah Foundation-Bangsamoro Women Skills Training Center Pastry Making in Sultan Kudarat town also received measuring cups, mixing bowls, and ovens.

Twenty-seven beneficiaries from Sultan Kudarat Islamic Academy Foundation College were also given carpentry equipment such as pull-push rule, claw hammer, spirit level bar,  steel square, crowbar, chalk line reel,  wood chisel, portable hand drill, and portable circular saw.

Kaharodin Piaco, 48, from Barira, Maguindanao, said his family will be able to start a cafeteria and earn extra income.

“Aside from farming, this cafeteria will give us additional sources of income,” Piaco said, vowing to improve and share the skills he acquired for the benefit of others.

The MBHTE-TESD said more MILF ex-combatants undertaking the skills training are to receive their tool kits soon. (PNA)